South Carolina Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer for Sepsis Cases
Summerville, South Carolina Elder Care Lawyers Fight Nursing Home Neglect
Sepsis is a systemic reaction to a widespread infection. An infection that triggers sepsis may begin anywhere in the body. The gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract and respiratory system are common areas for concern.
Sepsis is common in elderly patients, patients with weakened immune systems, and patients with chronic medical conditions. People who need help with hygiene and preventative care tasks, like those in nursing homes, are more susceptible to sepsis.
The results of sepsis can be life-threatening. It can lead to heart failure, kidney failure, respiratory failure, blood clots, amputations of limbs, and death. According to the Sepsis Alliance, the death rate for sepsis patients is thirty percent.
What is Sepsis?
Sepsis is the body’s overactive response to a widespread infection. Often, sepsis occurs when the body has fought against bacteria, viruses, or a parasite for some time. Unable to defeat the infection through its usual means, the immune system increases its efforts to the point where it turns on itself, causing widespread damage.
Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential for sepsis patients. According to the World Health Organization’s 2020 Global Report On The Epidemiology And Burden of Sepsis, one in six adults obtained long-term morbidity, one in three passed away within a year, and forty percent were re-hospitalized within ninety days.
Is Sepsis Preventable?
If a staff member knows that a resident has a debilitating disease or condition, suffered a recent injury, underwent a recent surgery, or has skin lesions or cracked skin, they must remain mindful and execute all preventative measures to effectively prevent sepsis. Activities where a nursing home resident may need help include:
- Taking a shower or bath;
- Washing their hands regularly;
- Changing and cleaning their bedding and clothes;
- Keeping wounds clean and covered while they heal; and
- Staying on top of vaccination schedules as needed.
Methods nursing home staff can practice to prevent sepsis include:
- Practicing excellent hygiene maintenance;
- Following sanitization and hygiene protocols to avoid transmitting bacteria and viruses between patients;
- Adhering to schedules and procedures for patient hygiene and wound care;
- Proper administration of medications;
- Prompt assessment of new or developing health conditions; and
- Knowing the signs and symptoms of sepsis.
Nursing home staff members are also responsible for monitoring environmental conditions and other factors that could lead to sepsis. Because nursing home residents may struggle with self-care tasks, staff members’ diligence is essential to preventing sepsis in nursing home settings.
What Factors Increase the Risk of Sepsis?
Sepsis is more likely to occur in:
- A sick or injured person who can’t fully care for their condition;
- A person whose immune system is weakened from illness, surgery, poor overall health, or old age; or
- A situation in which hygiene, wound care, and similar health and medical needs are neglected.
Because nursing home residents rely on staff for help with healthcare, safety, and basic needs, neglect can easily lead to sepsis. Lack of proper care due to understaffing, lack of training, or miscommunication can introduce new health risks to residents if a nursing home facility does not have operations in order.
How to Recognize Sepsis
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), some infections produce very few symptoms. If symptoms aren’t recognized, and a nursing home staff member neglects a resident, sepsis can occur. Signs of sepsis include:
- Chills or sweating;
- Diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea;
- Fever or low body temperature;
- Redness, soreness, or swelling, especially at wound sites;
- Discolored or clammy skin; and
- Severe pain.
The Sepsis Alliance uses the acronym TIME to help people remember the signs and symptoms of sepsis. Nursing home neglect can occur if the following are not checked correctly:
- Temperature. A higher or lower temperature than average may be a sign of sepsis.
- Infection. If symptoms of infection are not recognized quickly, sepsis is more likely to occur.
- Mental Decline. A person with sepsis may seem confused, sleepy, or “out of it.”
- Extreme Illness. Severe pain, shortness of breath, and other signs of severe infection may be present.
If a resident is neglected and develops sepsis, it can be life-threatening. Elderly patients with diabetes, weakened immune systems, or chronic liver or kidney diseases are more susceptible to blood clotting. Blood flow changes can lead to kidney, heart, or brain complications. As a person’s blood pressure drops, the resident can undergo septic shock. Symptoms of septic shock include low body temperature, rapid breathing, dizziness, and a fast pulse.
A nursing home staff member should recognize that if a person’s blood pressure drops, they must work with medical staff to ensure the blood pressure is 65 mm Hg or higher. Also, if lactic acid is found in a resident’s blood, their body is not producing enough oxygen.
Obtain a Treatment Plan for Sepsis
The Sepsis Alliance recommends that anyone with symptoms must receive emergency care immediately. The risk of dying from sepsis increases with age. In one study, 31 percent of patients aged 65-79 and 39 percent of patients aged 80 and older died in the hospital due to sepsis. Yet, for nursing home residents, the risk is even higher. The study found that 48 percent of nursing home residents with sepsis did not survive.
When sepsis is recognized early, treatment may be as simple as a round of antibiotics or other medications, along with proper rest and care. Treatment for sepsis includes receiving a diagnosis, using the correct medicine, and following medication instructions for dosing and storage.
What To Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect
Although some patients recover from sepsis, others may also suffer Post-Sepsis Syndrome. Symptoms include fatigue, liver, heart, or kidney organ dysfunction, other infections, and muscle or joint pain. Psychological symptoms include PTSD, memory impairment, panic attacks, and depression.
Nursing home staff must pay extra attention to patients who have suffered from sepsis or are prone to infections. Nursing home residents must receive excellent post-recovery care, such as new bedsheets, repositioning their body, routine hygiene care, accurate medication dosage, and recommended exercise.
If you or someone you know has suffered from improper nursing home care, it’s best to learn about the legal process early by talking with an experienced South Carolina nursing home neglect lawyer. Call 911 or take your loved one to the nearest emergency room if you suspect your loved one is currently suffering life-threatening symptoms. Once your loved one receives medical attention, the next step is to look for an experienced advocate. A Steinberg Law Firm nursing home neglect lawyer can help you understand your legal options. Give us a call today at (843) 720-2800 or use our online contact form.
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